A voluntary pilot testing scheme for COVID-19 is due to begin in secondary schools throughout this summer term.
The scheme will involve home testing lateral flow tests being offered to young people and staff who are not experiencing any symptoms, as part of the Island’s mitigation strategy.
Students and school staff will be given the opportunity to collect up to two lateral flow tests per week to take home and carry out. This involves a quick and easy self-administered swab of the nose and throat. A video explaining how to use the test will be available on the school’s websites once the pilot goes live. After testing, the results should take 15-30 minutes to come through.
Anyone who receives a positive test will be asked to follow the current isolation guidelines and will be subject to further PCR testing along with their family members.
The pilot will contribute to the aims of the Isle of Man’s long-term Exit Framework of living in a world with COVID-19 and provide another mitigation should there be a future outbreak.
David Ashford MHK, Minister for Health and Social Care said:
‘The vaccination programme is our way out of the pandemic, but it is important that we look at all options that will help us to assess and manage the virus.
‘Typically, up to one third of people who test positive don’t show symptoms and are at risk of transmitting it, so by testing students it will help to identify any sporadic case, and contribute to the Island’s measures to mitigate the spread of the virus.’
The tests will work alongside other current protective measures in place at schools, which includes promotion of respiratory hygiene and increased handwashing.
Dr Alex Allinson MHK, Minister for Education, Sport and Culture added:
‘We know from data that children and young people are very unlikely to become unwell if they develop COVID-19 but it is important we do what we can to keep them safe.
‘Through offering this community testing to all students and staff, we can monitor the situation and be ready to respond rapidly should we need to.’
Letters will be sent out to all parents with further details. Taking part in testing is voluntary and all pupils will be able to attend school whether they take part in testing or not, but participation is encouraged.